"Children Who Break Your Heart": A Reader Asks for Your Advice

At the Legacy Project, we’ve asked over 1200 of the oldest and wisest Americans for their advice about how to solve life’s problems. In this post we ask: How do you deal with children who break your heart? For advice on this topic and much more, see the bestselling book 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.

In an earlier post, one of the Legacy Project elders shared her mixed feelings about having children. Loraine,89 , talked about accepting both the joy and the pain children can bring. She stated: “If you don’t have children now, when you have them you will have these moments.  When you look at them and your heart – it’s like your heart takes all the pain and all the love for them that you have.”

We just received a comment on that post from one of our readers, who would like your advice:

What about when your children are disappointments? I would like to hear how parents handle situations when their most loved children are cause for a broken heart? Comments please!

We asked some experts for their advice, which you can find here.

Can you help? Does anyone have advice for overcoming the heartbreak children can sometimes cause? Please share your comments!

860 thoughts on “"Children Who Break Your Heart": A Reader Asks for Your Advice

  1. I have so much sympathy for people on here. I had very a bad childhood. It took me years of suffering to realise that I don’t love myself & I had to learn to love myself. If you love yourself you’re not in need of other people to love you. This I only learned after I turned 50 years old. I’ve also learned that everything is just thought by listening to Michael Neill’s ”inside out revolution.” My son is 22 years old & he is a lovely child just lazy and I’ve realised all the mistakes I made with raising him. I’m working in a daycare centre & have realised most parents have no idea how to raise their children. I’m doing a program now for parents how to teach their children respect, manners, kindness, love and a lot more. If parents do not teach children how to respect them and other people when they are 3 when are they going to teach them and then the child becomes a teenager never had these principles discussed & taught and then show their disrespect.
    I’ve made my life better by not concentrating on my problems & negativity from my siblings by been grateful for little things every day (walk outside & see the beautiful nature, look at the birds, the flowers). Volunteer at the animal shelter, soup kitchen, go to a daycare centre & read stories for the children. Find something to do, go for walks, sign up for clubs, go to church(they usually have groups you can join) Stop thinking about your problems, as they say, what you think about will expand in your life. Do the Ho’oponopono, sit in quiet & send them all love & forgiveness and stop thinking about what they did to you, stop having a victim mentality. I wished I’ve learned all these things a long time ago and raised my child with these principles of respect, forgiveness, kindness, self love and not been the victim. I see the parents at my daycare and how they mollycoddle these kids, a 3-year-old still gets carried into the centre instead of walking and be promised a lolly if they are good. That’s why I thought to do my program it is like a road map for the parents to teach the principles form birth.

  2. Parenting is never easy and it hasnt been.
    My daughter was a very loving caring well mannered child.
    We have been estranged for about 4yrs.
    She manipulated the rules to fit he needs. Not just the house rules but also the rules that no minor can be out of the house consecutively for 30 days.
    Was told by juvenile crisis people she isnt a hard case and theres nothing they can do to help me, they are advocates for minors.
    Anyway she stayed out skipped school. Got fined for skipping. Stole make up.
    Is and has been doing drugs and Alcohol, in with the wrong crowd. Has no respect for any authority.
    Plus went to jail for battery of me.

    Recently she asked if she could move back shes now 19 (she left at 16)
    She had a few bad days and ended up in hospital.
    The rules were
    Get counseling
    Stop all drugs Alcohol
    Job/school
    And walk dog to offset rent .
    Things were going well for awhile, then she began to stay out loose jobs, start lying about jobs she working.
    We put a lock on the bedroom door, she has a habit of taking any and all loose change.
    In reality she was taking coins that my partner had collected for 40yrs plus. Plus and cash he had.
    We gave he another chance, unfortunately this past weekend she took about another $300 in cash from my bedside cabinet in the locked bedroom….
    I kicked her out.
    She completely freaks out and tells me im always moving things and misplaced it, tells me i dont remember conversations that we never had.
    Trying to convince me im crazy and i cant do this to her

    Stealing is never a good thing, the money is besides the point, its the blatant lying and violation of trust and not being able to trust her in my home.
    We are no parniod that shes made a set of keys. And leave the house securing all screendoors.

    Im always going to question myself as a parent, im at a loss. Im afraid to cry incase i cant stop.
    I know im not alone, and lots of people go thru much worse with their kids at time,
    I just never ever thought id be one of those people..

    Thanks for letting me rant!

  3. Holy crap do i feel your pain of utter sadness…mine didnt get into trouble but at 16 started being disprectful rude hateful and are almost 40 and STILL cop an attitude. I finally realized personality probs and DNA (identical twins.. it was fun up until 13 and since then not)… im in my 60s and i tell people be aware its not ALL how you raise them but i DID over indulge and let them get away with too much with much regret…

  4. My son moved out to his dads last night after saying some of the most hurtful things ever. I am shocked at a couple of things he said to me and how he treated me. Christmas is a very special time for me and I go above and beyond to make it happy and memorable. I feel like this is tearing each apart even more because of the timing
    He is been very hurtful to me on the past but this time he certainly crossed a line
    I feel so down

  5. I’m so sorry going thru the same thing with my 22 year old so who dad died when he was 14 so I over compinsate I excused the behaviour I try so hard to believe he’s telling me the truth about taking 200 then 100 and the 50 from his nephew Christmas money that was the last straw I kicked him out but I’m the one crying feeling heartbroken what a life .

  6. My Daughter left with the Grandson that I helped raise over 10 months ago. She was on drugs and I had to call DFS. I had my Grandson for almost 2 months. Before this they lived with me for the first yr of his life and I had him 17 hrs per day. I was trying to get Guardianship the next week, but before I could, her Dad, who has had nothing to do with her or her Sister their whole lives, came to town for his Father’s funeral. He convinced DFS that he would take care of them, so DFS let my Daughter and her Dad come and take him to Virginia, I live in Missouri. Sebastian didn’t know him or anyone associated with him. He promised he would get her help, the baby help for the trauma. He promised there would be communication. My daughter let me see Sebastian over the phone for 2 weeks. Then nothing.

    This Grandchild was like a son to me. I loved my Daughter and couldn’t stand what she was doing to herself and the trauma he was going through. I cry just about every day, it’s worse than a death because there is no closure. I would give anything just to see them, to hear their voices. My heart is shattered. I feel like I failed them both. I watch videos of my Grandson and tears flow like rivers. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that this would happen. I do blame DFS for allowing them to take him under the circumstances that my daughter was under the influence of heroin and that my Daughter hadn’t even adhered to what DFS had asked for. There was also the circumstance that the babies Father was abusing my Daughter and shooting her up in front of him. I was trying to do everything in my power to get Sebastian help. The Father is in jail or prison here in Missouri. I blame my self for not being there for my Daughter, but I couldn’t make her stay away from the Baby’s Father or the drugs. She wasn’t raised that way. I was not the model parent, but I wasn’t on drugs.

    Everyday I just pray and give it to God because I know that he will take care of everything. She does allow messages through FB and for that I am grateful. I have apologized a million times. I tell them how much I miss and love them as much as I can, yet the hurt, heartbreak and being physically sick is always there. Please pray for my Daughter and Grandson, bring them back home Jesus.

  7. My daughter ran away at 16 and a half with a dad she never knew or was raised with. She was raised by me and her step dad but wanted to get money out of her biological Dad after we refused to buy her a car. (She told all this to her best friend). We didn’t even know they were communicating. The courts we’re going to make her come home and said that she had to go back to school the next day so she said we were abusive even though it was a lie and her story kept getting more ridiculous. We had to get a lawyer and spent thousands again. They even went to my kids school to interrogate them but found no evidence of truth to her allegations.

    Her friend had a sweet sixteen party so her mind was set in one. We spent thousands on a sweet 16 six months before she left after giving her a choice between a car or a party and she chose a sweet 16 party then was mad we wouldnt buy her a car. (Especially after we bought a SUV for our family car) She felt entitled to it. Everyone that loved her so much is so hurt by her.

    She slept around after she left living with different people. I gave her everything because I felt bad for her because of the rejection from her biological Dad. He tried to get me to abort her but I left him instead and he refused to see her growing up and he eventually got in trouble with the law. She once wrote a song for him and cried even though she had a loving step dad that favored her and would do anything for her. She treated him like crap in the end.

    She left home out of the blue because we argued about her cleaning her room. She even had rotten food under her bed and inside her closet. I gave her the master bedroom with the bathroom. She was so manipulative with me. She lied so she wouldn’t have to come back after running away. She got her biological dad to buy her a convertible and started drinking and doing drugs and now is pregnant at 18. So sad for her and praying someday she will realize what she did and mostly that she can mature and be a good mom.

    My heart broke so bad from her betrayal selfish ways and I still am in disbelief and can’t figure out what went wrong. I can only assume maybe some mental illness since her moods changed like a switch all her life but much worse with puberty! It’s been 2 years now and I’m still in disbelief about her and heartbroken. Don’t spoil your kids it will back fire because they become so entitled and materialistic!

  8. Angela…your story sounds so much like mine. I won’t get into the details, but our stories are very similar. My daughter has had so many chances, and yet refuses to acknowledge the issues involved. I’ve had to lock all money in a safe that only I or my wife can open. I feel awful about it, but what else to do? And the lying is just heartbreaking.

  9. My ex husband is an alcoholic. We’ve been divorced for 10 yrs but he is still, to this day, impacting me through my children who are 18 and 20. He often doesn’t have a job despite having 2 bachelors degrees. I finally, after many years, filed for back child support. He didn’t have a job at the time. What I didn’t understand is that child support services would not only clean out his bank accounts , but take his tax refund and stimulus money. My children haven’t spoken to me for 6 months because of this even though the money was going to be for them. He and his family have all been crying to them about what a horrible a person I am taking a jobless man’s money. Unfortunately, I have no control over how the money is collected. My therapist said I have taught my kids to be co-dependent and they are rescuing their father. I fear they will never speak to me again. I have been a good mother. I can honestly say that a day never went by that they didn’t know I loved them. I am missing them so much and my heart is broken.

  10. God l feel all your stories lm so stuck with my situation my step kids mum
    Died last year aged 20/18/17, there Dad moved in with me so they could all be together, my now husband of 6 months has had a fall out with my son both nearly fighting and me in the middle my husband saying your just like your Dad to my son. My son has now temporarily moved to his Sisters, as they both saying they can’t live together, my husband feels my son doesn’t help around the house mostly and l do everything! My son was in a domestic violence relationship when l was with his Dad they speak but not much else. Any advise helpful

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